Novel Solvent Systems for the Development of Sustainable Technology
Draucker, Laura Christine
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Sustainable development in chemical engineering offers technical, industrially relevant solutions to environmental and economic issues. This work focuses on three specific issues; improving solvent selection and reducing costly experimentation, improving catalyst recovery while reducing reaction time, and producing commercial viable biofuels by cost effective pretreatments and valuable side product extractions. Novel solvent systems are a sustainable solution because they provide the ability to replace costly solvents with cheap, benign, and recyclable systems. Specifically, this work investigated the use of one novel solvent system, Gas Expanded Liquids (GXL).When a solvent is exposed to a gas in which it is miscible at modest pressures and temperatures, the liquid solvent becomes expanded, providing a unique tunable and reversible solvent with properties that can be much different then that of the solvent itself. If you apply this gas to a mixture of two liquids of a solid dissolved in a liquid phase, it can often provide a miscibility switch, aiding in separation, crystallization, and recovery of products or catalysts. In this work several different applications for organic solvents expanded with carbon dioxide were studied including miscibility switches for catalyst recycle, pretreatment of biomass for improved bio-ethanol production, and extraction of valuable chemicals from lignin waste in the pulp and paper industry. Solid solubility models to improve solvent selection and predict unique solvent mixtures during crystallization were also studied. The results reported here show promise for the use of GXL novel solvent systems and solid solubility models in many sustainable applications.